A Community-Centered Education Research Conference marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the impact on public schools nationwide will be held at the Hyatt Regency, 601 Loyola Ave., Aug. 4-5 in New Orleans.
The purpose of this conference is to prompt a national conversation among prominent urban education researchers and community members most intimately affected by such reform to illuminate effects on the ground.
Aside from longtime education activists in New Orleans and prominent urban education researchers, school board members, students, parents, teachers, school administrators, education activists, cultural workers, and legal allies from at least 10 different cities will participate, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Nashville-Memphis, Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia. Among others, these are cities where the “New Orleans model” has been adopted in some form.
Additionally, leaders from a host of national education organizations, centers, foundations, and civil rights groups will be attending as well as a wide range of local organizations with a long history of social justice activism.
Organizers say they believe that given ongoing concerns over racial and economic injustice, retrenchment of civil rights, and educational inequity, the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina presents an ideal, even catalytic, moment to reflect on the progress of recent policy initiatives.
Bringing together scholars and community-based stakeholders from cities nationwide, this conference will enable careful and collective consideration of the evidence in charting the educational future of children.
The two-day conference will feature a number of panel discussions on a variety of topics relative to the current state and direction of public education in New Orleans.
Sessions on the “New Orleans model” of education reform will feature testimony and research on:
- Closure of neighborhood schools and charter school expansion
- Veteran teachers, teacher unions, and the impact of human capital recruitment
- Experiences of children and families in the charter school market
- Evidence, accountability, innovation, and inequity
- Grassroots and legal challenges to charter schools
- Curriculum, culture, and community in a “No Excuses” climate
Panels, featured sessions, addresses, interviews, luncheons, youth program and cultural arts presentations, dessert reception, theater performance, storytelling forum, “Dream Aloud” open mic, and cross-city strategic planning opportunities will provide rich opportunities for all participants to learn together and build together.
Program features include:
- Debut of “The Perfect Storm,” a locally produced documentary that chronicles the state takeover and chartering of New Orleans public schools;
- Critical analysis by grassroots education activists and urban education researchers on racial and economic inequities and strategies for ongoing resistance and research;
- Participation in multi-city forums on national adoption of the “New Orleans model” and ways to challenge it;
- Introduction to longstanding educational and cultural programs developed by New Orleans veteran teachers, accompanied by student presentations and performances;
- Access to books on African American culture and history, hosted by the locally-owned Community Book Center as well as a “Resources for Resistance” book giveaway;
- Preview of Souls’ forthcoming special issue on education reform in New Orleans a decade later; and
- Historic deposit of conference program in the archive of the Louisiana and Special Collections Department of the University of New Orleans, ensuring that community members’ voices are registered by future generations.
The conference is a collaborative project of American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Dillard University, the Southern Education Foundation, Critical Race Studies in Education Association, the Urban South Grassroots Research Collective, The New Orleans Tribune, The New Orleans Imperative, the Southern Initiative Algebra Project, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, the African American Studies Program at University of Texas-San Antonio, American Counseling Association, and the American Counseling Association Foundation.